Concept: Cryptic species complex
Historically serving as repositories for morphologically-based taxonomic research, natural history collections are now increasingly being targeted in studies utilizing DNA data. The development of advanced molecular techniques has facilitated extraction of useable DNA from old specimens, including type material. Sequencing diagnostic molecular markers from type material enables accurate species designation, especially where modern taxonomic hypotheses confirm morphologically cryptic species complexes. One such example is Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens), which belongs to a complex of about 20 cryptic species, most of which can only be reliably distinguished by their pre-mating courtship songs or by DNA analysis. The subtle morphological variation in the group has led to disagreement over the previous designation of the lectotype for C. carnea, an issue that has been further compounded because Chrysoperla carnea is a highly valued biological control agent in arable crops. Archival DNA extraction and sequencing from the 180 year old lectotype specimen, combined with Bayesian and Likelihood based phylogenetic analyses of modern specimens from the entire complex, were used to establish unambiguously the true identity of Chrysoperla carnea.
During acoustic communication, an audible message is transmitted from a sender to a receiver, often producing changes in behavior. In a system where evolutionary changes of the sender do not result in a concomitant adjustment in the receiver, communication and species recognition could fail. However, the possibility of an evolutionary decoupling between sender and receiver has rarely been studied. Frog populations in the Allobates femoralis cryptic species complex are known for their extensive morphological, genetic and acoustic variation. We hypothesized that geographic variation in acoustic signals of A. femoralis was correlated with geographic changes in communication through changes in male-male recognition. To test this hypothesis, we quantified male call recognition using phonotactic responses to playback experiments of advertisement calls with two, three and four notes in eight localities of the Amazonian basin. Then, we reconstructed the ancestral states of call note number in a phylogenetic framework and evaluated whether the character state of the most recent common ancestor predicted current relative responses to two, three and four notes. The probability of a phonotactic response to advertisement calls of A. femoralis males was strongly influenced by the call mid-frequency and the number of notes in most populations. Positive phonotaxis was complete for calls from each individual’s population, and in some populations, it was also partial for allotopic calls; however, in two populations, individuals equally recognized calls with two, three or four notes. This evidence, in conjunction with our results from phylogenetic comparative methods, supports the hypothesis of decoupled evolution between sender and receiver in the male-male communication system of the A. femoralis complex. Thus, signal recognition appears to evolve more slowly than the calls.
A potential DNA barcode, ITS2, was studied to discriminate herbal materials to confirm their identities and ensure their safe application in pharmaceuticals. Here, a total of 4385 samples of 2431 species were collected, and these samples are from 61 commonly used herbs and their closely related species or adulterants. Based on assessments of the extent of genetic divergence, the DNA barcoding gap and the ability for species discrimination, our results suggest that ITS2 is a powerful tool for distinguishing herbs. For the first dataset including 61 herbs, ITS2 correctly identified 100 % of them. For the second dataset containing 51 herbs and their 2382 closely related species, ITS2 could discriminate correctly 48 herbs from their closely related species. For the third dataset comprising 34 herbs and their 111 adulterants, ITS2 could distinguish successfully all the herbs from their adulterants. In conclusion, the ITS2 region is an efficient marker for the authentication of herbal materials, and our study will accelerate the process of the application of the DNA barcoding technique in differentiating herbs.
We sampled 14,603 geometrid moths along a forested elevational gradient from 1020-3021 m in the southern Ecuadorian Andes, and then employed DNA barcoding to refine decisions on species boundaries initially made by morphology. We compared the results with those from an earlier study on the same but slightly shorter gradient that relied solely on morphological criteria to discriminate species. The present analysis revealed 1857 putative species, an 80% increase in species richness from the earlier study that detected only 1010 species. Measures of species richness and diversity that are less dependent on sample size were more than twice as high as in the earlier study, even when analysis was restricted to an identical elevational range. The estimated total number of geometrid species (new dataset) in the sampled area is 2350. Species richness at single sites was 32-43% higher, and the beta diversity component rose by 43-51%. These impacts of DNA barcoding on measures of richness reflect its capacity to reveal cryptic species that were overlooked in the first study. The overall results confirmed unique diversity patterns reported in the first investigation. Species diversity was uniformly high along the gradient, declining only slightly above 2800 m. Species turnover also showed little variation along the gradient, reinforcing the lack of evidence for discrete faunal zones. By confirming these major biodiversity patterns, the present study establishes that incomplete species delineation does not necessarily conceal trends of biodiversity along ecological gradients, but it impedes determination of the true magnitude of diversity and species turnover.
The Jenynsia lineata species complex comprises J. lineata from Montevideo, Uruguay and Jenynsia multidentata, from coastal basins of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina up to 1200 m a.s.l. Taxonomic divisions within this group were tested using three different species delimitation methods, which found the two existing names to be synonyms and revealed a new cryptic species. Jenynsia darwini sp. nov. is distinguished from all congeners by having a unique combination of character states, including the shape of the dorsal postcleithrum (three times higher than wide v. less than two times higher than wide) and female colour pattern in the half of the caudal peduncle with rows of chromatophores segmented in unaligned spots (v. aligned spots forming lines). The new species also differs from J. lineata by having 26 nucleotide substitutions in the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I (coI). Phylogenetic analysis of the genus based on morphological characters proposed by previous studies corroborates monophyly of the subgenera Plesiojenynsia and Jenynsia, with the new species being allocated to the subgenus Jenynsia as the sister group of J. lineata.
While traditionally species recognition has been based solely on morphological differences either typological or quantitative, several newly developed methods can be used for a more objective and integrative approach on species delimitation. This may be especially relevant when dealing with cryptic species or species complexes, where high overall resemblance between species is coupled with comparatively high morphological variation within populations. Rock lizards, genus Darevskia, are such an example, as many of its members offer few diagnostic morphological features. Herein, we use a combination of genetic, morphological and ecological criteria to delimit cryptic species within two species complexes, D. chlorogaster and D. defilippii, both distributed in northern Iran. Our analyses are based on molecular information from two nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, morphological data (15 morphometric, 16 meristic and four categorical characters) and eleven newly calculated spatial environmental predictors. The phylogeny inferred for Darevskia confirmed monophyly of each species complex, with each of them comprising several highly divergent clades, especially when compared to other congeners. We identified seven candidate species within each complex, of which three and four species were supported by Bayesian species delimitation within D. chlorogaster and D. defilippii, respectively. Trained with genetically determined clades, Ecological Niche Modeling provided additional support for these cryptic species. Especially those within the D. defilippii-complex exhibit well-differentiated niches. Due to overall morphological resemblance, in a first approach PCA with mixed variables only showed the separation between the two complexes. However, MANCOVA and subsequent Discriminant Analysis performed separately for both complexes allowed for distinction of the species when sample size was large enough, namely within the D. chlorogaster-complex. In conclusion, the results support four new species, which are described herein.
DNA barcoding protocols require the linkage of each sequence record to a voucher specimen that has, whenever possible, been authoritatively identified. Natural history collections would seem an ideal resource for barcode library construction, but they have never seen large-scale analysis because of concerns linked to DNA degradation. The present study examines the strength of this barrier, carrying out a comprehensive analysis of moth and butterfly (Lepidoptera) species in the Australian National Insect Collection. Protocols were developed that enabled tissue samples, specimen data, and images to be assembled rapidly. Using these methods, a five-person team processed 41,650 specimens representing 12,699 species in 14 weeks. Subsequent molecular analysis took about six months, reflecting the need for multiple rounds of PCR as sequence recovery was impacted by age, body size, and collection protocols. Despite these variables and the fact that specimens averaged 30.4 years old, barcode records were obtained from 86% of the species. In fact, one or more barcode compliant sequences (>487 bp) were recovered from virtually all species represented by five or more individuals, even when the youngest was 50 years old. By assembling specimen images, distributional data, and DNA barcode sequences on a web-accessible informatics platform, this study has greatly advanced accessibility to information on thousands of species. Moreover, much of the specimen data became publically accessible within days of its acquisition, while most sequence results saw release within three months. As such, this study reveals the speed with which DNA barcode workflows can mobilize biodiversity data, often providing the first web-accessible information for a species. These results further suggest that existing collections can enable the rapid development of a comprehensive DNA barcode library for the most diverse compartment of terrestrial biodiversity - insects.
Using the marine rotifer Brachionus plicatilis acute toxicity tests, we estimated the toxicity of Corexit 9500A(®), propylene glycol, and Macondo oil. Ratios of 1:10, 1:50 and 1:130 for Corexit 9500A(®):Macondo oil mixture represent: maximum exposure concentrations, recommended ratios for deploying Corexit (1:10-1:50), 1:130 the actual dispersant:oil ratio used in the Deep Water Horizon spill. Corexit 9500A(®) and oil are similar in their toxicity. However, when Corexit 9500A(®) and oil are mixed, toxicity to B. manjavacas increases up to 52-fold. Extrapolating these results to the oil released by the Macondo well, suggests underestimation of increased toxicity from Corexit application. We found small differences in sensitivity among species of the B. plicatilis species complex, likely reflecting phylogenetic similarity. Just 2.6% of the water-accommodated fraction of oil inhibited rotifer cyst hatching by 50%, an ecologically significant result because rotifer cyst in sediments are critical resources for the recolonization of populations each Spring.
A major challenge in network ecology is to describe the full-range of species interactions in a community to create highly-resolved food-webs. We developed a molecular approach based on DNA full barcoding and mini-barcoding to describe difficult to observe plant - leaf miner - parasitoid interactions, consisting of animals commonly regarded as agricultural pests and their natural enemies. We tested the ability of universal primers to amplify the remaining DNA inside leaf miner mines after the emergence of the insect. We compared the results of a) morphological identification of adult specimens; b) identification based on the shape of the mines; c) the COI Mini-barcode (130 bp) and d) the COI full barcode (658 bp) fragments to accurately identify the leaf-miner species. We used the molecular approach to build and analyse a tri-partite ecological network of plant - leaf miner - parasitoid interactions. We were able to detect the DNA of leaf-mining insects within their feeding mines on a range of host plants using mini-barcoding primers: 6% for the leaves collected empty and 33% success after we observed the emergence of the leaf miner. We suggest that the low amplification success of leaf mines collected empty was mainly due to the time since the adult emerged and discuss methodological improvements. Nevertheless our approach provided new species-interaction data for the ecological network. We found that the 130 bp fragment is variable enough to identify all the species included in this study. Both COI fragments reveal that some leaf miner species could be composed of cryptic species. The network built using the molecular approach was more accurate in describing tri-partite interactions compared with traditional approaches based on morphological criteria.
DNA barcoding potentially offers scientists who are not expert taxonomists a powerful tool to support the accuracy of field studies involving taxa that are diverse and difficult to identify. The taxonomy of rays has received reasonable attention in Australia, although the fauna in remote locations such as Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia is poorly studied and the identification of some species in the field is problematic. Here, we report an application of DNA-barcoding to the identification of 16 species (from 10 genera) of tropical rays as part of an ecological study. Analysis of the dataset combined across all samples grouped sequences into clearly defined operational taxonomic units, with two conspicuous exceptions: the Neotrygon kuhlii species complex and the Aetobatus species complex. In the field, the group that presented the most difficulties for identification was the spotted whiptail rays, referred to as the ‘uarnak’ complex. Two sets of problems limited the successful application of DNA barcoding: (1) the presence of cryptic species, species complexes with unresolved taxonomic status and intra-specific geographical variation, and (2) insufficient numbers of entries in online databases that have been verified taxonomically, and the presence of lodged sequences in databases with inconsistent names. Nevertheless, we demonstrate the potential of the DNA barcoding approach to confirm field identifications and to highlight species complexes where taxonomic uncertainty might confound ecological data.